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Appealing Mass. Hardship License Denials to Court

Massachusetts Registry News

I routinely get inquiries regarding Superior Court Appeals of Hardship License denials by the Board of Appeal. Many Massachusetts Hardship License applicants are unable to afford the services of a lawyer and others try to save money by representing themselves. This can be a painful mistake. Although there is a right to appeal an adverse hardship license determination made by the Board of Appeals, these Superior Court appeals are almost always losers.

In Superior Court appeals, the hardship license candidate who was denied bears the burden of demonstrating that the Board’s decision to deny hardship relief is invalid. This is a heavy burden. The Board’s decision may be set aside only if the Court finds it is (a) in violation of constitutional provisions; (b) in excess of statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency; (c) based upon error of law; (d) made upon lawful procedure; (e) unsupported by substantial evidence; (f) unwarranted by facts found by the court on the record as submitted; or (g) arbitrary or capricious or an abuse of discretion, and that substantial rights of a party have been prejudiced as a result. Substantial evidence means that a decision is based on “reasonable evidence, … i.e., ‘such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion,’ after taking into consideration opposing evidence in the record.”

In reviewing Board of Appeal decisions, the Courts routinely defer to the Board’s experience, technical competence, specialized knowledge, and discretionary authority. Given this legal standard, there is little meaningful opportunity to challenge the Board’s decision regarding who gets a hardship license and who gets denied. One of the best ways of insuring that you will get a license is to hire an experienced lawyer who routinely practices before the Board and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Contact me for more information.

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